April as die wreedste, wreedste maand …

“April is the cruellest month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing / Memory and desire, / stirring / Dull roots with spring rain”, het TS Eliot in “The Burial of the Dead” geskryf. En waar die Afrikaanse digkuns enkele jare gelede geruk was deur die enorme verlies aan ‘n hele aantal van haar mees prominente digters; stemme soos Ronnie Belcher, Jan de Bruyn, IL de Villiers, Lucas Malan en George Weideman, wil dit nou voorkom asof die noodlot in alle erns begin kap het in die bos van ons Engelse kollegas, met digters soos Stephen Watson (6 November 1954 – 10 April 2011) en Patrick Cullinan (25 May 1933 – 14 April 2011) wat vroeër vandeesmaand oorlede is.

Stephen Watson

Stephen Watson

In my soeke na inligting oor bogenoemde digters, lees ek die volgende oor Stephen Watson op Wikipedia: “Creatively, he believed that that poetry and literature can stand on their own and need not refer to politics, or the struggle for liberation, in order to be valid. He took a strong stand on poetic relativism, believing it was possible and desirable to differentiate between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ poetry – a stance that has drawn criticism. As a literary critic, Watson suggested that ‘South Africa is held together by a nexus of peoples ‘dreaming’ each other in terms of the myths that the distance between them creates’.”

Nog ‘n treffende samevatting van Watson se besonderse digwerk, is op Poetry International Web te vinde, waar Roy Robins die volgende opmerking maak: “For over thirty years, Stephen Watson has been lyrically mapping South Africa, both as a shifting ecosystem and as a psychic landmass, an outward expression of the self. In Watson’s world, place is indistinguishable from displacement, loss from longing, lust from loneliness. To be alive is to be unsettled, and to be unsettled is to stray. Watson’s poetry is most frequently written in the third person, and his protagonists are almost always alone. Solitude invites reflection, and reflection takes its form in division and self doubt. Only the landscape is permanent, and sometimes not even that.”

By wyse van huldeblyk volg sy gedig “The Gift” onder aan die Nuuswekker.

Patrick Cullinan

Patrick Cullinan

Patrick Roland Cullinan is eweneens ‘n digter wat breë en duidelik waarneembare spore in ons letterkunde getrap het; iemand vir wie die gehalte van die vers ononderhandelbaar was en daarom (veral tydens die apartheidsjare) dikwels daarvoor gekritiseer was dat sy verse nie genoegsaam ‘polities’ van aard was nie. Hieroor het hy hom soos volg uitgelaat: “To talk of ‘literature’, of good writing, of art may be obscene or almost obscene in a society as self-destructing, engrossed in conflict as this one is. But the important word is almost. For however cluttered by violence and potential annihilation a society may find itself, it is the writers and the artists who portray the reality of this process… There are multiple ways of telling the truth.” (Wikipedia.)

Cullinan het, net soos Stephen Watson, buiten sy poësie ook baie ánder werke geproduseer; waaronder die wonderlike omdigtings van Eugenio Montale se gedigte. Hiervoor is hy in 2003 deur die Italiaanse regering vereer.

As huldeblyk plaas ek dan juis een van dié omdigtings, “The House on the Frontier“, onderaan vanoggend se Nuuswekker.

***

Sedert gister het Andries Bezuidenhout ‘n blog geplaas waarin hy vertel van wat hy alles beplan vir die aantal rusdae wat op hande is. Ek vermoed dat ons almal uitsien na ‘n rustyd sonder woelinge.

Daarom – geniet dit. Ons hervat weer Maandag.

Mooi bly.

LE 

The Gift

 

You brought me other worlds, here
where the fir trees stand, each one a mast
stepped in the noon basin of its shadow,
where the thatch in its stillness, thickness,
is laid reed on reed in the Christmas heat.

You gave me this hill-station, world
where each day the mountains parent a cloud
that goes husbanding its cloud-shadow
far below, across the high grasslands, far
into the afternoons of the African montane.

It was there again, in that high country,
that we could watch those clouds
go riding their own cloud-shadows
high over the logging roads, cascades,
back into the mountains fluted by their stone.

You brought a world that love returns
us to – the plains and their poetics, space,
piebald under the play of light and shade,
and that carry us even as they run,
their clouds dilate, evaporate,

far as the Winterberg, curving away into the south

far as the Amatolas, Mountains of the Calf.

 

© Stephen Watson (Uit: The Light Echo, 2007: Penguin)

***

The House on the Frontier

From the Italian of Eugenio Montale

Forget. You have forgotten
that house on the frontier,
the cliff that waits for you,
desolate, sheer above rocks.
You do not remember
the night your thoughts
swarmed about the house,
immortal, uneasy.

For years a gale has lashed the walls.
When you laugh you are unhappy.
For no reason the compass
swings crazily. You cannot guess
what way the dice will fall.
You have forgotten. Another time
distracts your memory. The thread
winds round and I . . .

I hold one end, but the house
goes back and back and the cock
on the roof is dark with smoke:
it spins and has no pity.
I hold one end
but you are alone.
At night I cannot hear
the sound of your breathing.

Yes, here is the horizon –
and once or twice I have seen
the lights of a passing tanker.
Is this where we cross? (And always
the breakers that swarm on the rocks,

the crumbling away.) You
do not remember the house, all night
it has been my own.

I do not know who has entered it
or who it is that has left.

 

© Patrick Cullinan (Uit: Selected Poems, 1961-1994, 2003: Snailpress)

 

Bookmark and Share

Een Kommentaar op “April as die wreedste, wreedste maand …”

  1. Breyten Breytenbach :

    Baie dankie, Louis. Dis handevathuldigings. En mooi dat hulle stemme op hierdie wyse nog ‘n bietjie kan meeklink.

  •